Sweet Dog Spontaneously Produces Milk For Adopted Little Genets

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

It’s no secret that dogs are some of the most amazingly warm and compassionate animals out there. In fact, a lot of humans could stand to take a few lessons!

But sometimes, we meet a dog whose capacity for love is truly astounding.

Dogs, both males and females, have been known to “adopt” baby animals of other species, providing them with warmth and protection, like nurse dog Blakely, who served as a guardian and surrogate dad to some orphaned baby cheetahs.

But then, there’s Candy — a cocker spaniel and poodle mix who really went above and beyond when it came to caring for needy babies.

It all started when some children near Hoedspruit, South Africa, found three baby genets in a puddle, their mother having abandoned them.

Genets are small African mammals that resemble foxes and cats, and are related to civets.

The kids contacted their local pastor, who in turn contacted the Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage, which takes in orphaned animals and also works with underprivileged children to educate them about animals and the environment.

Daktari founders Ian and Michele Merrifield were concerned about the babies. Only about 2 weeks old, they needed a mother for warmth and food. Wrapping them in blankets, they laid the baby genets next to their dogs to keep them warm.

But, they never expected what would happen next. Read on to find out!

[H/T: The Dodo]

On collecting three orphaned baby genets, Michele and Ian Merrifield were worried that being so small and weak, and without a mother, they wouldn’t make it.

They introduced the babies to Candy, a very friendly cocker spaniel and poodle mix who, they say, takes an active interest in most of the animals who come through Daktari.

In case you’re wondering, genets are catlike animals native to Africa. When they get older, they look like this. They’re pretty cute.

Although they were different species, Candy took to the genets and they to her immediately. The babies snuggled with her to keep warm.

The Merrifields were hand-feeding them milk with syringes, and they noticed, with some amusement, that the genets tried to suckle from Candy.

Candy had puppies in the past, but not for a long time and she wasn’t pregnant, so the Merrifields didn’t think anything of it.

So imagine their astonishment when just a few days after the genets started trying to suckle, Candy started producing milk.

“We were shocked the see that she’d actually started producing milk,” Ian says. “The only way we could explain it is that her motherly instincts had kicked in.”

It turns out that’s exactly what happened. Maternal hormones can get activated in the body from the feeling of a strong connection, including oxytocin, which produces milk in mammals.

It appears that Candy felt such a deep, strong connection for the baby genets that her body responded by providing them with food, just as if she were their biological mother.

The genets, who were named Maswika, Sakka, and Chouchou, nursed every day, while also being given calcium supplements.

Candy also deepened her emotional bond with the babies, and started guarding them from other animals and people.

Eventually, the genets grew up. Maswika and Sakka were strong and healthy enough to be released back into the wild, but Chouchou still needed some time to adjust and stayed at Daktari.

Genets are nocturnal and dogs are not, so Candy and Chouchou don’t see each other as often, but Candy always makes it a point to say hello.

Daktari, where Candy and Chouchou live, is a nonprofit organization that both rescues and rehabilitates wild animals, and also educates underprivileged children about animals and the environment with hands-on lessons.

These kids are bottle-feeding a baby warthog, one of three abandoned babies rescued by Daktari.

There are all kinds of animals there, but the Daktari staff aims to return as many as possible to the wild.

But, they do like to help out with human chores, like this little marmoset helping out in the kitchen.

Many of the animals are babies, who would be unable to survive without care, so the volunteers and the students provide them with healthy food so they can grow.

As well as plenty of cuddles!

Check out the other amazing work and incredible animals at Daktari by checking out their website, where you can also donate to make sure animals like Chouchou get the care they need.

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